Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey won the Democratic nomination to be the state’s next governor in Tuesday’s primary election, putting her closer to becoming the Bay State’s first out LGBTQ executive.
Healey won north of 80% of the vote in a race that was largely uncontested, even though the name of her primary rival, State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston), who dropped out of the race in June, remained on the ballot.
Healey, who became the first out LGBTQ statewide officeholder in Massachusetts — and the first out lesbian attorney general of any U.S. state — following her election in 2014, began her legal career clerking for a federal judge and served as a special assistant district attorney in Middlesex County, the commonwealth’s most populous county.
She was hired by former Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, serving as chief of the Civil Rights Division, and later, the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau, followed by the Business and Labor Bureau.
In her victory speech on Tuesday night, Healey praised outgoing Gov. Charlie Baker, an extremely popular moderate Republican who decided against pursuing a third term, saying he has “led with respect” and “refused to engage in the politics of division and destruction that we’ve seen across this country,” according to Boston.com, a news website run by Boston Globe Media Partners.
Healey contrasted Baker’s demeanor and approach to politics to that of Geoff Diehl, a Trump-endorsed candidate who won the Republican primary by about ten percentage points over a more moderate opponent.
Healey warned that Diehl would “bring Trumpism to Massachusetts,” an attack that has some salience due to the general unpopularity of former President Donald Trump in the commonwealth.
She also hit on Democratic themes such as support for abortion rights, public transportation, and education in her speech.
Given the Democratic lean of Massachusetts, Healey is considered the favorite for November’s general election.
If elected, Healey would become the first openly gay candidate and first woman elected to the commonwealth’s top office.
Former Gov. Jane Swift, a Republican who served from 2001 to 2003, was never elected to the post and became governor only after Gov. Paul Cellucci resigned to become the U.S. Ambassador to Canada.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund praised Healey’s victory, noting that she is on track — along with current Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, who is seeking her own state’s top job — to become one of the first out lesbian governors in U.S. history.
An out lesbian has never been elected governor of any state.
Gov. Jared Polis became the first out gay man elected governor of Colorado in 2018, and Gov. Kate Brown became the first bisexual governor of Oregon when she assumed office in 2015 following her predecessor’s abrupt resignation. She was subsequently elected statewide in 2016.
“As attorney general, Maura has used the power of the legal system to fight the opioid epidemic, protect our environment, safeguard LGBTQ rights and so much more,” said Victory Fund president and CEO Annise Parker, in a statement. “She knows how to disrupt the status quo and get real change done on behalf of her constituents.
“As governor, we are confident she will leverage this experience to help create a more just future for all Massachusetts residents, especially LGBTQ kids who’ve felt the brunt of anti-LGBTQ attacks this year. Her success tonight is a clear sign that our collective perseverance and grit will ultimately win out over the wave of intolerance sweeping our country.”